DaeSean Hamilton Ready To Take His Game To The Next Level
Redshirt sophomore wideout DaeSean Hamilton enjoyed an incredibly productive 2014 season, posting 82 catches for 899 yards and two touchdowns. The fact that he was only a freshman makes last year’s performance even more impressive.
While Hamilton was able to make an impact early on in his career, 2014 is in the rearview mirror. Expectations will be much higher as he’ll be counted on to springboard off of his successful freshman campaign and be an offensive focal point in 2015. Hamilton, now a part of Penn State’s 2015 Leadership Council, will be counted on to take that next step with a season of work under his belt.
Hamilton spoke to the media on Tuesday, touching on a variety of points relating to spring practice. He was asked about his impressive 2014 season, but more importantly, what he’s working on in preparation for his sophomore campaign.
“Personally, I’m using spring practice to work on things like making those contested catches in traffic, and running better routes,” Hamilton said. “I’m working on not trying to do too much at the line of scrimmage, especially one-on-one with cornerbacks in press situations. I want to run more precise, crisp routes, and focus on keeping my head down and running full speed through the play. I want to develop into more of a vertical threat by stretching the field, and become a more all-around player.”
Hamilton emerged in 2014 as a reliable pass catcher who doubled as a home run threat every time he went deep, but with an increased focus on the little things, the sky is the limit for what he can do in 2015. To the offense’s benefit is the lack of turnover in the wide receiving corps. In fact, the team actually gains a weapon in redshirt freshman DeAndre Thompkins — a player who’s been catching the eye of many throughout spring practices.
“There have been a lot of guys who stood out in practice,” Hamilton said. “Guys like Chris [Godwin] and Saeed [Blacknall] are making plays, but DeAndre really opened a lot of eyes. He showed that he put in a lot of work in the offseason.”
Adding a slot threat like Thompkins positively affects the offensive dynamic as a whole, giving opposing defenses one more speedster to worry about. But the presence of Thompkins should provide a similar affect on Hamilton in 2015, allowing him to isolate himself — and opposing cornerbacks — out wide.
Albeit a drastic comparison, Thompkins’ presence just outside the hashmarks could resemble the Wes Welker-Randy Moss duo that wreaked havoc in New England from 2007-10. Welker took pressure off Moss because of the threat he posed in the slot, giving Moss much more breathing room outside to make plays. Now obviously, the Thompkins-Hamilton tandem won’t be as dominant — given that Moss and Welker were both four-time NFL All-Pros — but it puts the impact Thompkins could have on Hamilton’s game in perspective.
Another important element working in Hamilton’s favor is the chemistry he and quarterback Christian Hackenberg have developed over the last two years. The two are best friends, and formed a relationship off the field when they both arrived as true freshmen in 2013. In 2014, the two expanded that relationship to the football field, resulting in a sense of trust — a trust that Hamilton built when the ball came his way.
A concrete bond between quarterback and receiver is one of the most integral elements in regards to production, and the relationship produced on-field results — 82 times in fact — as Hamilton became a favorite target of Hackenberg as the season progressed. Heading into 2015, that relationship will be even more crucial to the offense’s success, as both players look to use that bond to their advantage.
“It really helps having chemistry with any quarterback, but it’ll be especially important for me and Hack, who’s entering his third year, so he’s really seen it all,” Hamilton said. “That chemistry really helps with timing, and knowing where the ball will be as soon as I’m out of my route. We’ve really benefited from putting in work in the film room together.”
In general, Hamilton said that spring practices have been incredibly productive, and that the wide receiving corps is growing as a unit. They thrive by pushing one another to be better, and it’s that type of cohesiveness that will make this unit special in 2015.
There’s plenty to be excited about as we approach the annual Blue-White Game on April 18, but Hamilton is somebody to keep an eye on. He burst onto the scene last season in a big way, but look for him to take it to a whole new level as he develops into a dynamic scoring threat in an offense that might set the Big Ten ablaze this coming season.